In the poems ‘Half-past Two’, ‘Hide and Seek’, ‘Leaving School’ and ‘Dear Mr Lee themes of childhood are presented to the reader in different ways. All of these poems put forward the idea that certain events in a child’s life which they will remember may not be very important to adults. A child’s view is put forward by the poets. For example in ‘Half-past Two’ as the child does not yet know how to read the time on a clock. He knows that the clock some how tells the time but does not know how to read it:
“He new the clock face, the little eyes
And two long legs for walking,Order now
But he couldn’t click its language”
To the reader, the phrases such as:
Would give an image of a child who is in the early years of their life so whereas in ‘Hide and Seek’ the punctuation helps heighten the sense of being a child, U. A. Fanthorpe uses words strung together with no spaces as seen in the quotation above to communicate the sense of child-like behaviour. In contrast to this, we initially get the sense of being a child with ‘Hide and Seek’ from reading the title. Also, Scannell uses exclamation marks in the narrator’s speech:
“I’m ready! Come and find me!'”
In half past two the poem starts off a lot like a children’s story book:
“Once upon a schooltime.”
On the second line the capitals emphasise that it is the teacher talking to the child the next line says that what the child had done wrong was not important to the teacher, but was to the child. ‘Hide and seek’ starts with a child’s voice the child is playing a game of hide and seeks it seems innocent and the phrase:
“Hide in your blindness”
Is a typical view of the world from a child’s perspective. The child is happy thinking that he has found a good hiding place and stays there for a long time after a while he comes out to find that his friends have gone and left him towards the end of the poem there is a feeling of loneliness and I think that the child is scared because the sky is getting darker and everything is quiet, the opposite of what it was when the game was being played.
The events in the story in “Half past two” has a lasting effect on the child whereas the teacher cannot remember what it was she kept him in the school room for. The child does not know how to tell the time all the important times that he new are joined up as one large word:
This is again as a child would see the world.
The child keeps waiting it seems like a story to him:
He sees the period that he is in the room as timeless as if he fades away in to nothing ever
“Into the smell of old chrysanthemums on Her desk,
Into the silent noise his hangnail made,
Into the air outside the window into ever”
The oxymoron silent noise his hangnail made emphasises the kind of phrase that a child would say or that one may think.
In ‘Dear Mr Lee’, the voice enjoys a certain book Cider with Rosie and through the teaching and the examining has taken the enjoyment out of reading the book for a pupils own pleasure. This particular pupil has enjoyed reading the book again and again:
“If you could see my copy you’d know it’s lived with me stained with Coke and Kitkat,”
The voice is writing to the author of her favourite book Laurie Lee and is apologising because she failed the exam the voice did not like the lesson English until she read ‘Cider with Rosie’.
This pupil does not like any of the other authors or novelists such as Shakespeare etc. The irony about this poem is that this poem is an examination piece of literature.
In ‘Leaving School’ the voice is a child that is about to start a new school. This poem presents the disappointment and the unhappiness that children remember but again remain irrelevant to adults. Before starting the new school the child is looking forward to going there and they think that it’s going to be fun:
“I thought it was going to be fun”
The child sees this event as a life changing moment:
“I was eight when I set out in to the world wearing a grey flannel suit / I had my own suit case”
The child is very grown up has a flannel suit for instance and has his own suitcase the school that he is going to is a boarding school and seem to be very strict and treat the children like adults.
All of the above poems have similarities about them such as they are all about childhood but there are also many differences about them such as “Hide and seek” is about the fun side of childhood and “Leaving School” is about the scared part and the unhappiness in childhood, “Half-past Two” is about children that are to scared to ask teachers because they have been told off. “Dear Mr Lee” is about the curriculum taking the enjoyment out of reading books that are in the syllabus even if out peoples own accord.